Travel agents face refund crisis

HO CHI MINH CITY, 10 August 2020: Travel agents who had booked hundreds of domestic tourists to visit resorts in central Vietnam have been inundated with demands for refunds.

Travel agencies paid deposits on accommodation or in full to secure airline seats, but travellers believed they were eligible for a full refund even if hotel deposits were forfeited and fares were nonrefundable.

According to Vietnam Netnews, HCM City Tourism Association, vice chief officer Nguyen Thi Khanh said: “After the outbreak in Danang, many people in HCM City cancelled tours to Danang as well as tours to other locations like Da Lat, Phu Quoc and Vung Tau. Only a few customers agreed to change the date or destination, and the rest wanted a full refund.”

HCM City Tourism Association has filed a request with the Tourism Department and other tourism associations in Vietnam to find a way to help tour agencies negotiate with customers.

More than 80,000 domestic tourists were evacuated from Danang and surrounding destinations when the Covid-19 second wave hit the region. Vietnam has since locked down Danang and surrounding districts.

Refund demands and compensation are two issues that are causing problems for travel agencies across the region. In Thailand, where some destination management companies have failed recently, hotel firms are chasing unpaid bills for accommodation. Even the travel firms that are hibernating with no financial income having suspended all business activities are now facing considerable pressure to pay arrears on hotel bills, and some hotels have reportedly have threatened legal action.